Monday, February 28, 2011

The Hunger Games Book Review

Holy cow...this is a great book! I knew going into it that it had gotten rave reviews, and that it was supposed to be a cliff-hanger and it didn't disappoint!

Divided into three books, the world as we know it is long gone and now the world of Panem exists, and it is a hard a cruel world. Panem is divided into districts, each specializing in its own distinct products and services. Katniss, the protaganist, is from District 12 which is known as one of the worst districts because its focus is coal mining. Katniss lives with her mother and sister Prim, and her father has died in the mines. She is the sole provider, hunting and gathering just to keep her family alive.

Each year the Capitol of Panem sponsors The Hunger Games, a real survival game where two tributes from each distict come and fight to be the sole survivor at the conclusion of the games. Prim, Katniss's sister is drawn in the lottery but Katniss volunteers to go in her place. Peeta, the baker's son is also drawn and although he and Katniss have some knowledge of one another, they are still pitted against each other which becomes a central storyline.

Katniss and Peeta go to the games, and it is their hard experiences back home in the district that serve them well in the arena. Without spoiling too much, Katniss learns more than just how to survive - and the conclusion segways right into book two which is life after the games. Can't wait to get reading!

The book does have some violent scenes, and the constant forcing of romance between Katniss and Peeta gets a little dry, but overall it is an edge-of-your-seat cliff-hanger, and the author does a great job of making you LOVE Katniss. This novel would be great for a character study, and while I would let my 6th graders read it, I wouldn't use it as required reading.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Confession Post - I AM AN ADDICT!

Okay, for those that clicked on this post just to be nosy and to see what I could possibly be addicted too (and I would have done the EXACT same thing if I were you), the excitement ends with the subject line - I am addicted to downloading books to my Nook.

It sounds like quite a boring addiction, but honestly, for a compulsive reader like me, it is quite satisfying. I had no idea the wealth of books that I would have at my fingertips with the Nook. And that green bar that signifies my latest hit has arrived is my new found Friday night high!

Ironically, my oldest son (who is only two) already knows how to shop for books too - this could be good or bad! I read recently that 75% of kids under five can't tie their shoes but can use a SmartPhone app - makes you kind of wonder? Boy #1 can use my Nook better than I can...

Here are a few of my recent purchases that I, and Boy #1, can't wait to read:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pioneer Woman Book Review

Ever since I first heard about The Pioneer Woman I have wanted to read her book - I really love the blog, and think she has an interesting story to tell.

When I received my Nook, I quickly redeemed my gift certificate and ordered her book for $12.99. I needed a light, quick, adult read after the many SpineCrackers book club books I have been reading and I was able to finish it quickly thanks to some downtime I have had recently.

The Pioneer Woman is a love story, about Ree Drummond and how she went from a sophisticated, savvy, cosmopolitan woman, to a clueless country girl...and this all happened because she fell in love with a cowboy she met one night at a small-town bar. The book chronicles her transformation from city to country life with many different hiccups along the way - a clingy ex-boyfriend, her parent's divorce, and her desire to not let go of her grand Chicago plans.

Her story of their courtship is interesting, but it does get a little long-winded. I don't think I could have handled anymore chapters about how Marlboro Man took her breath away...we get the picture. Her character comes off as a little ditzy as well despite her attempts to make her seem clutzy, and it almost gets frustrating how much she tries to fight the relationship. You just want to jump in the book (a throwback to my precious two-year-old), and shake her into her senses!

Marlboro Man's character is very drawn-out, being the classic tall dark and handsome man, who comes to rescue Ree from herself. He is a strong man's man, who any woman in their right mind would consider to be a catch. He offers Ree a totally different existence than she is used to, and he holds on and is there to catch her along the way. I just think she repeated how enamoured she was with his starched shirts, Wranglers, and well-defined muscles from hard work more times than she should have. Enough is enough...

Overall I was a little disappointed in the book - the website is done so well, I fully expected the book to be amazing as well and it just didn't deliver and I got tired of waiting for her to get her head straight and realize she should let down her guard and fall in love. In hindsight, I wouldn't have paid $12.99 for it. Despite this, I probably will read the next book just to see what happens next (pending she writes another one), but will wait for it at the library.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Girl Who Could Fly Book Review

I recently finished my ninth SpineCrackers book club book of the year, The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester. The cover of the book really does make it intriguing, a girl flying through a stormy sky with a crazy looking lady hanging onto her feet.

Piper McCloud is not your average girl - she has an extraordinary ability, one that the folks in Lowland County just can't overlook. She can fly. Besides that, she is a down-to-earth girl who sees things for what they are, and always does what's right. Her parents, firm believers in the Good Book and the Lord, just don't understand why Piper can't be normal, like everyone else. They do everything in their power to ground her, figuratively and literally!

After an unfortunate experience at a church picnic, Piper is picked up by Dr. Letitia Hellion (the last name should be considered foreshadowing). Dr. Hellion takes Piper to the institute, where the main goal is to make her normal - get rid of her abnormality. Piper quickly realizes that the other children who are there are like robots, and there are unseemly things taking place at every level.

Conrad, who has made it his main job to be Piper's archnemisis, is an interesting character. He is a genius, and uses his smarts to exert control over all of the children at the institute. While Piper befriends some of the other kids, she still is unsettled by what is taking place there. Finally, Conrad reveals his true self to Piper, and she sees that he is putting on an act as a diversion to his true goal, an escape. Because of Piper's flying ability, he thinks now is the perfect time. But Piper's big heart won't let her leave without the other children. She and Conrad come up with an alternative escape plan, which fails miserably.

At the end, Piper and Conrad decide that since escape isn't plausible, they will take over the institute - and they do just that. It is only as they are trying to leave that they discover Dr. Hellion's true ability - and the reasons for her cruelty.

The book has a happy ending, with the kids all being successful and keeping in touch, and Piper being a central part of it all. A VERY cute and quick high-interest read, and one that my book club students really love.

One of my favorite passages from the book (p. 275):

"There is a place deep, deep inside every person that is hidden and hard to find. If things get bad enough and life gets too hard, though, some people will go to that place and never come back from it. Certainly, all outward appearances will suggest otherwise. They will look as they always did. They may even act somewhat like their old selves, but the truth is, the real truth is that they are hiding in this place deep inside where no one can touch or hurt them anymore. After Sebastian was gone and the pain of the M.O.L.D. got to be too much, Piper discovered her secret place, locked herself inside, and hid the key."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On Top of Laundry Mountain

If you have seen Dora the Explorer you know that she is always on a mission somewhere and has to travel according to her "Map." She frequently encounters places such as Crocodile Lake, Dancing Forest, Windy River, and Snowy Mountain.

Boy #1 frequently uses his imagination to pretend that these places are in our house, and I was amused to recently hear him apply them to a real life landmark that is actually here.

Anyone with a young family knows just how overwhelming laundry can be, and my house is no exception. On any given week, I have anywhere from 5-10 loads, and that is no exaggeration. I am not sure how one is expected to keep up with that, and everything else it takes to keep a household going and I would be lying if I said that I am able to. I am actually one to just shut the laundry room door, out of sight, out of mind, right? Or I end up spending my whole weekend trying to tackle the laundry problem.

The other day we pried the door open and laundry came tumbling out and Boy #1 scrambled to the top of the massive heap and declared, "Look Mommy, I am on top of LAUNDRY MOUNTAIN!!!"

Yes son, you are...get your hiking boots out because that slope is only going to get higher.

DISCLAIMER: No that is not an actual picture of MY Laundry Mountain, but after a quick Google image search I am relieved to know that others have experienced this phenomenon in their house as well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nookin' It Up

All those who are nearest and dearest already know the news, but I GOT A NOOK! Let me say it again, I GOT A REAL LIVE NOOK!

Those who are nearest and dearest also know just how obsessed I have been over the past month with the idea of getting one. I am an avid reader, and my purse purchases have already been based around how much book space I have - now, they will be based upon whether they have Nook space!

My parents purchased this for me for my college graduation (yes, I am finally the proud recipient of a master's degree!) At the surprise celebration party last night, the Nook became a reality. I have spent much of my day playing, researching, shopping, and just relishing in the fact that I finally have A NOOK!

All that are nearest and dearest probably know exactly what types of books I put on my Nook...the first purchase was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. And tons of kids picture books, because you know my boys will get tons of enjoyment out of this too! Boy #1 already knows how to flip real life and e reader world!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adult Truths

I stole this from a recent email I received...completely hilarious!

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the heck are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever..

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

24. People who forward e-mail without deleting the tons of previous recipients should be shot and then tarred and feathered.

25. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important. Ladies quit Laughing!

Heal the past, live the present, dream the future.

Enjoy life!!!